WEDDINGTON – Neighbors opposed to plans for a new 47-home subdivision off Antioch Church Road have learned of an even bleaker alternative if county commissioners don’t approve the rezoning request – rental homes.
The plan is to rezone the 25.5-acre property, which is split by floodplain, in order to market $600,000 homes on smaller lots, according to Kevin Pressley. But if the rezoning request doesn’t pass, the development team has a contract with American Homes 4 Rent to develop the left side of the property with homes that could fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.
“We don’t think the folks around this area would want rental houses and there’s nothing hindering it,” Pressley told commissioners during the Oct. 1 public hearing. “We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to put rental houses out there. We want to be good neighbors, but we’re going to develop the property.”
David Thompson, who lives on Antioch Plantation, didn’t take kindly to plan B.
“I feel a little bit like you’re holding a gun to my head, that if I don’t accept your proposal, you’re going to trash my property values,” Thompson said during the meeting. “That’s what I took from that. I don’t appreciate that.”
Resident Jonathan Thomas doesn’t know of any property in the county that can command the price developers anticipate at that lot size.
The property is currently zoned for 40,000-square-foot lots with setbacks of 40 feet in front, 15 feet on the side and 40 feet in the back. The petitioner is seeking a zoning designation for 10,000-square-foot lots with setbacks of 30 in front, 10 on the side and 30 in the back.
Pressley said the development team only sought the higher density designation for the setbacks and lots will be greater than 20,000 square feet.
“We feel like that we’re doing no harm and doing nothing but increasing the values with a $600,000 house on a small lot,” he said.
While the project is not consistent with the neighboring land uses, the developer has indicated plans to extend water to the site, according to Union County Growth Manager Brian Matthews. They’ll also add a culvert to connect the two sides split by floodplain.
The subdivision would have no more than 47 units with homes of at least 3,000 square feet and vinyl siding not allowed as the primary construction material. It would also meet the county’s existing rules for tree removal and replacement.
Commissioner Richard Helms mentioned to the development team the need to communicate how the project will affect enrollment at Union County Public Schools, while Commissioner Barbara Harrison expressed concerns about how water would affect property downstream.
Weddington Councilman Michael Smith spoke out against the project for that very reason.
“The council’s concerns are about the stormwater runoff that would occur as a result of 47 homes built in such as a condensed manner on a floodplain and the devastating impact it would have on the Weddington homes that abut this property,” Smith said, adding a fork of 12 Mile Creek runs through the property, “The section of this creek that passes under Antioch Church Road is prone to flooding, causing the road to close. The water continues along the creek bed, flooding backyards of homes that are several hundred yards downstream of the intended building site.”
He doesn’t think the stormwater management measures put in place for this project will work during the building phase and damage existing homes.
Wesley Chapel Mayor Brad Horvath told county commissioners that he’d hate to see children go through yet another redistricting process with so much incoming density between his village and Weddington.
Horvath also pointed to a fire in the St. Johns Forest subdivision that caused a neighboring house to burn and another to melt. Putting homes so close together is putting more pressure on municipal services and putting people’s lives in danger, he said.
Pressley said he understands neighbors’ concerns. He felt the same way about the Monroe Bypass coming through his property, until he realized there was nothing he could do about it and began working with the N.C. Turnpike Authority to make it a better project.
Charles Osborne assured the town that his brother, Frank, is going to sell the property and it will be developed in the near future. Osborne reasoned that he’d much rather see a development with nice homes, streets and sidewalks than second-rate houses that turn into rental property within five years.